Category Archives: Amazon

Product Review :: Essential Oils Storage Box #anjinaturals

Product Review :: Essential Oils Storage Box #anjinaturals

Essential Oils Wooden Storage Case – Holds Up to 74 Bottles – Large Capacity Box with Customizable Slots – Bonus Color-Coded Bottle Cap Stickers and 25 pips


Nice case with plenty of room!

Please note, I received this case for free but all opinions expressed in the following review are my own. 

essential oils storage boxI love working with essential oils and have acquired a fairly large collection. My favorites I keep on my bedside vanity with my diffuser, but I have others stored all over the place. I have wanted one of these storage cases for a very long time now because it is frustrating to have to look for the bottle you want and not be able to find it! I like to keep my things organized and this is the perfect case to do it with.

Advantages:

Able to hold 68 (5-15 ml) Essential Oil Bottles and 6 (10ml) roller bottles

Case is divided with a wooden grid to keep each oil in its place. 

Box comes with a secure latch to prevent accidental spills

Bonus materials include 25 pipettes, aromatherapy eBook on a cd, and a pack of colored sticker labels

essential oils storage box

Disadvantages:

When the box arrived, the wooden grid of squares for each oil was jammed into the box and was too big, making it stick up at an odd angle. My husband had to remove the grid and sand one of the sides to make it fit. 

One of the slats was broken, but my husband was able to glue it and fix it. 

essential oils storage boxOther Highlights:  This box is made of white pine and comes unfinished so you can customize it to fit your needs. Right away my husband had plans for this, he is going to spray stain it in a rich mahogany color. I am also going to place some felt in the bottom of the box and under the lid. Now, of course, you don’t have to do any of this. You can use it exactly the way it comes. This just gives you the option of making your box more decorative or fancy if you would like to. 

Other ideas you could use to dress it up would be painting it or even using decoupage to dress it up in your favorite theme. 

This box wouls be useful to store other things besides essential oils. Right away my son thought it would be perfect for his Lego people.  It would actually for any kind of small collection. Any person that is into crafts could find a myriad of uses for it. Jewelry making is a hobby that comes to mind. 

Recommendation:

I love this box and will undoubtedly get a lot of use from it. I do feel the quality control could have been better. This should have never shipped to a customer like it did with the grid not fitting and a slat that was broken. If I didn’t have someone familiar with woodworking to fix it for me, I might have sent it back.

  #anjinaturals


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: Double Hammock #XLLightweightPortableDurableNylonHammock

Product Review :: Double Hammock #XLLightweightPortableDurableNylonHammock


YUEDGE Lightweight Portable Durable Nylon Hammock for Outdoor,Traveling, Camping, Hiking, Backpacking (XL Blue)


Durable enough to stand up to several rambunctious kids!

Please note, I received this at a discount in exchange for my review. 

I ordered this hammock for my grandchildren to use in the back yard and on camping trips. Our family really loves hammocks and everyone seems to always gravitate to them when they are out. I thought if I got this double hammock it would be big enough to hold a few children and I was right, it is perfect. Two adults can even snuggle up in this for a nice nap.

Advantages:
* Accurate size at approx 108″ x 80″
* Big enough for 2-3 kids under 10, 2 kids and 1 adult, or 2 average sized adults
* Made of breathable nylon, easy to clean, dries quickly
* Carabiners and thick nylon ropes came already attached to the hammock
* Easy to hang and comfortable to use

Disadvantages:
* I wish the carrying case, which is actually attached to the hammock, was just a little bit larger. I found it difficult to get it all packed back up into the bag but it is possible. If you are the methodical type, you will have no problem.

double hammock

This hammock comes in 4 different sizes and 2 different colors so make sure you are ordering the size that you need. I ordered the XL in Blue and have been very happy with it. It does match up to the product description very well so as long as you are aware of what is described in the listing and that is what you are looking for, you should be very happy too.

I think the smaller sized hammock would make a great reading nook hammock in a closet. Kids love hammocks and any small space would do. You could even make a reading area in an unfinished basement or attic by hanging one of these from the beams and simply putting some tumbling mats below it in case of a spill from the hammock. These hammocks are lightweight and durable, perfect for all kinds of different projects with kids, indoors and out.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this YUEDGE Lightweight Portable Durable Nylon Hammock for Outdoor,Traveling, Camping, Hiking, Backpacking (XL Blue) on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#XLLightweightPortableDurableNylonHammock


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Amazon Changes Promotional Content in Customer Reviews Again!

Amazon Changes Promotional Content in Customer Reviews Again!

Amazon has once again made changes to their Promotional Content in Customer Reviews. I thought there would be some changes to their policy, some fine tuning. I never imagined that they would go in this direction.

They have added some “clarification” that seems to negate their last changes, especially what was in the changes on Seller Central which I didn’t even talk about on here.

Here is what is relevant in the new policy:

Amazon Customer Promotional Content Reviews

So what does this mean? To me, it seems like they are going back on their previous ban on getting products through third party websites or groups. However, the Seller can still not ask for a review. They have also put in further clarification prohibiting other benefits besides the product and added that the review can’t affect your membership in a program or club and that the Reviewers ratings or referrals in any club can’t be affected by whether or not they write the review.  It seems also that there can be no monitoring of whether or not a review is written for the product.

If you do decide to start reviewing right away, you MUST include a disclosure (disclaimer).  If you don’t, you could be facing hefty FTC fines. I would go with something simple like “I received this product for free, I was in no way obligated to leave a review.” If you got it at a discount, use that word instead of “free.” DO NOT use the word “exchange” in your review. 

promotional-content-in-customer-reviewsWhat do you think? I am not sure I will jump right back on the bandwagon. Things are changing too quickly, one right after another, and the day to day wondering whether any review I write will remain on Amazon or not is not worth it at this point. After another short period of “letting the dust settle,” I may jump back in… I am interested now in looking at any trends in the reviews that are deleted from our accounts now. Were they from products that we got through a club? Were they from Sellers who just aren’t on Amazon anymore? Has anyone heard of any other bloggers who have been looking at that? Would love to know if anyone has.

I would also love to know what you think and what your plans are!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Guest Post :: Change – It Happened

Guest Post :: Change – It Happened

Don't give up hopeWhen change happens and it is unexpected, it can often seem overwhelming and tragic. Sometimes even when we know a big change is coming, it still tears us up, leaving us angry and/or depressed.

Have you ever lost a job that you really loved? A job where you worked so hard and put everything you had into making someone else’s business a success, and then were let go without a word of thanks?

What about an unexpected break up? Were you ever in a relationship that seemed to be going along fine, things were progressing, but then one day it was over and you weren’t really sure what happened?

Were you one of the people that had your Amazon account wiped or do you know someone who had their account wiped? It can be a devastating experience for some people. In a sense, many people feel like they have been wiped by the recent changes at Amazon. They haven’t lost their reviews or their privileges, but they have lost the way they do things. For many, reviewing was their main hobby and how they spent their free time. Now to not be able to have their routine, how will their lives change?

Change can be hard, but life is full of change. I want to share this story written by an inspirational person who I happened to met along my own Amazon journey. In it, she shares how she handled the major change in her life when her review account was wiped. She actually wrote this guest post two months ago, but something always seemed to come up and I never got it posted. It must be Serendipity because now is the perfect time for it.


It happened.

After reviewing on many of Amazon’s sites between 2010 and 2016, I woke up one day to the dreaded email. You know the one, it reads something like, “You may have violated our terms of service and are no longer permitted to post reviews…” Gotta love that ‘may have’. See, they’re smart. By not giving any specifics, our sue-happy society is hard-pressed to find anyone willing to take on any type of civil case. They did not specifically accuse me of anything – they claimed that I may have done something to violate their very ambiguous terms of service.

Personally, my theory on why this happened to me is basically that I outstayed my welcome. I redeemed literally thousands of promotional codes for free and deeply discounted items on their site. But I’ll never know for sure – perhaps I did violate their terms. In the 2400+ reviews I posted on just their American site, there’s a really good chance that I made mistakes along the way!

I started reviewing when a product royally pissed me off and I felt the need to share my poor experience with anyone I could. The review quickly grew in popularity and Amazon requested I write more. With just a couple of reviews on the site, I was ranked in the 12,000s. Being a huge fan and frequent shopper of the site, I complied, writing reviews from everything from complex reports on books to two-liners on groceries and household goods and everything in between.

I didn’t think too much of my rank, having a good time helping independent authors by sharing my thoughts on their work and I like to think, fellow consumers by sharing my experience with various products. The majority of my reviews included photos and a few had videos.

Eventually, I believe I was in the 8000s window when sellers started contacting me, requesting I try their products. While most people seem to get totally rabid at the mention of “Free Stuff”, I was always pretty selective about what I’d review. I’d stop and think, Do I really want to write about this? If it was something myself or a member of my immediate family could honestly use and something that wasn’t going to be too much of a pain to write about, I’d go for it. As long as it was at least 99% off. That’s another thing I was selective about – it had to be free or pretty darn close to free.

I’m not gonna lie – having dozens of packages show up seven days a week was super fun. I definitely became addicted. My apartment, at times, looked like it belonged on an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive and sadly, that’s not an exaggeration. I joined some of the Facebook groups and watched for opportunities to snag even more free stuff. Many were shady or dramatic or just plain annoying – I left those ones quickly. However, I found some that I really liked, whose admins didn’t nag too much and who tried to keep their terms compliant with Amazon’s. Of course, Amazon’s terms are so ambiguous – there is much debate over how exactly to do that. That’s a long discussion worthy of its own post – so I won’t open that can of worms here.

My reviewing habit definitely got out of control. I was never late on reviews, never legitimately on those naughty lists. I always got them done… but it was extremely time consuming. At one point, I installed Grammarly and according to my weekly reports, I was writing over 50,000 words per week. That is insane. I edit novels that are around that length. Since I’ve stopped posting reviews on Amazon, I’m only writing about 5,000 words weekly. That should give you an idea of the volume of reviews I was posting just on Amazon.

Remember – Amazon isn’t the only place to post reviews. I still review on numerous other sites such as other retailers, traveler sites, etc. I’ve mystery shopped, I’ve test-stayed for Disney – this sort of thing is far from foreign to me. But Amazon is definitely the easiest and seemingly the most popular. Though, many sellers I’ve spoken to are exploring and moving to other avenues because of the mass ‘wipings’ Amazon seems to be doing lately.

Sometime in the last year or so, Amazon became really infamous for wiping accounts, seeming to “crack down” on the scammers, cheaters, etc. (You might notice this is around the same time they publicly came under fire for being infiltrated with fake reviews.) As a result, I watched this wave of panic take over the reviewing circuit. I realized that my time as an Amazon reviewer would run out – the question was when. It could be in an hour or another year. So I decided to make the most of it – hence those 50,000 words per week!

There wasn’t anything that triggered this attitude for me, other than the reality of the fact that – Amazon isn’t stupid. While I shop for literally EVERYthing that isn’t perishable on their site – at full price – I figured they still wouldn’t take too kindly to the thousands of promos I was using. Talk about taking advantage of my Prime membership – that free shipping isn’t cheap for them.

When it got to the point that people were creating Amazon accounts and buying Prime memberships just for the sake of being able to get free stuff, I knew Amazon would soon crack down. And they did. Hence all these infamous wipings.

While I, in theory, seemed safe, I figured in reality no one is. I’ve been a customer of Amazon since 2004. I’ve been a Prime member since 2009 and buying ALL of my household items, pet items and non-perishable grocery items on there ever since. Every month, my Subscribe & Save delivery is huge, every week I get several Pantry boxes – not to mention all of the other random things and the 8,000 eBooks, movies and TV shows in my cloud… Any time we need anything, Amazon is our go-to. I’m far from one of these bandwagon free-stuff seekers. The thing is, it doesn’t matter.

I reviewed my “legitimate” or promo-free purchases, just the same as my promo-purchases. I’ve never sold review items, I’ve never posted a paid review or a fake review. Amazon doesn’t know that. No one can know that – except for me. Amazon doesn’t know about the pages and devices full of notes I took, legitimately and honestly testing products before gathering said notes into honest reviews. I’m guessing they wouldn’t care if they did.

I did receive one warning. There was one time I reviewed a sleep mask, I remember it well. I got trigger-happy and hit “submit” before I’d finished the review! I thought, Shit! I’d left out the disclaimer! I immediately hit ‘edit’ and of course, added a disclaimer and saved the review. It didn’t matter. They emailed me stating that, because I’d left out a disclaimer, my review had been suppressed and if it happened again, I “might” have my reviewing privilege revoked. I emailed back and forth with them, explaining it was an honest mistake, which they could clearly see by my immediate edit. None of that mattered. I’d given them a reason to put me on notice.

That was over a year before I got wiped and to my knowledge, it was an isolated incident. I was never warned or reprimanded by them again. Until the dreaded message in which I was informed I’d been wiped.

One of my authors actually noticed before I did. I had a message from her, “Your reviews of all of my books are gone.” I knew in that instant that my time had come. I checked my email and found the confirming email. Of course I went through the motions of appealing. I even emailed Jeff Bezos and got a personal response that included an email for the Communities team that differs from the one everyone knows, encouraged to reach out. However, I never heard back from them, unsurprisingly. If they reversed their decision for me, they’d be more pressured / expected to do it for others. They’d lose some of the upper hand they have going on how. Plus, reversing my ‘wiping’ might send out a message that they do make mistakes. We can’t have that now, can we?

They’re citing “relationship with seller/author” in my case. They’re not wrong. When I love a book, if I don’t already know the author, I reach out to them. Social media has made that possible. Obviously, in order to obtain a promotional code from a seller for a free item, I’ve talked with them at least a little bit too. Depending on their definition of “relationship”, we all have a relationship with every vendor/author we’ve ever reviewed. More ambiguity.

While I was reviewing with the realization that it wouldn’t be forever, I always thought that when the time came, I’d be devastated. I had a lot of reviews to lose and a lot of time invested and I was really enjoying all of the free and deeply discounted goods. I was wrong.

The only way to make sense of changeAfter confirming that my profile was gone and I could in fact, no longer post new reviews, I felt relief. SO MUCH time had just been freed up. I realized I didn’t actually need anything. I never pitched sellers, just opted into fun things that came to me. So, I’m not really ‘out’ anything. I looked at it as taking what I could get and enjoying it while it lasted. Now – I do enjoy being able to try out the majority of my purchases without stopping to take notes and pictures along the way!

I had a great time while it lasted, and like most good things, it had to end some time.

There Is Life After Amazon !!!

Sellers still pitch me constantly, even though my profile has been gone for, I think it’s been about 6 weeks now. Many are sellers I’ve worked with before, but many are new to me. If the item is something I’m interested in, I explain that I cannot post to Amazon any more but I’d be happy to post anywhere else (my blog, other retailers, social media sharing, etc.). So I still review a ton – just not at the obsessive hoarder level I was at before. And a weight has definitely been lifted from my shoulders.

L.j. Redding – PelicanFreak


I remember being online the morning L.j. found out she was wiped, I felt devastated! I knew how hard she worked on her reviews and how much she loved doing them. I was so nervous to bring it up, I didn’t want to make her feel worse than she already did but knew I had to let her know that I was sorry she had been wiped. When we started chatting on Messenger, I could actually feel her relief myself! I could tell she was more relaxed and enjoying doing things she hadn’t had time to do in a while. She was baking up a storm, coloring, and of course, reading. And she was truly happy.

Don't be afraid to changeThere are many things that can help us through the unpleasant changes in our lives. Faith and hope come to mind. Sometimes it is our attitude that will carry us through the rough times. L.j. chose to be happy instead of bitter and allowed herself to recognize and acknowledge the actual relief she felt. I think the biggest lesson here is sometimes what we think we need in our lives, isn’t really what makes us happy. 

Thank you L.j. for sharing your story!


How about you? Can you think of a change in your life that you just knew was going to be awful but turned into something else?


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Reviewing 🌟 The Dust Has Settled, What’s Next? Even Better Things!

Reviewing 🌟 The Dust Has Settled, What’s Next? Even Better Things!

keep-calm-and-experience-serendipity🌟”Late Reviews”  🌟ARAT  

🌟Blogging  🌟Social Media

🌟Other Opportunities  🌟Amazon

🌟What’s Next!


 

🌟 “Late Reviews”

Keep calm and just say noI am still hearing about some people receiving pressure from Sellers or admins to finish reviews that you were holding off on. Keep Calm And Just Say No! It will in all probability be taken down by Amazon anyway and you could lose your account. Anything published after the 4th (I believe that is the date, they supposedly gave one day for the policy to go into effect) is subject to the new policy and if you didn’t use your own money to buy it, don’t review it. Let anyone that is pressuring you know that it is against Amazon policy and offer them an alternative posting on one of your social media accounts. If they are still adamant, I would consider reporting them.

If you did post a review after that date for anything that involved any type of agreement, I would delete it. That is my personal opinion only, I have no facts to back that up. I know I have always said in the past not to delete any reviews, but the rules have changed now.

As far as I am concerned, and the consensus among people that I trust, is that the dust has settled and it is time to move on from posting reviews involving anyone else at all, on Amazon. If you haven’t read my post Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews I really encourage you to. If you have read it, you should take a look at some of the Comments people have left.

I always love reading Comments, they are the favorite part of my blog. The additional information, corrections, questions, and insightful thoughts really make for great reading. We have had some really great participation the last 2 weeks, it seems to help when I write a post, lol. I love the interaction with you all, your thoughts and opinions, just learning more about you. Thank you!

🌟 ARAT

keep-calm-and-download-a-copy-of-your-reviews-with-aratIf you still haven’t backed up your Amazon reviews using ARAT, do it now. How To Back Up Your Amazon Reviews Using ARAT  It doesn’t take that long to get a copy of your reviews and you never know when they might come in handy! You have worked hard and you should always keep a copy of your work. Who knows, save it and in 20 years publish it as a “Remember When” funny commentary about products we used in the early part of the century! If you only have an iPhone or Mac and don’t have access to Windows, which is required by ARAT, contact me I will make a copy of your reviews for you. I do not require your Amazon password to do this.

🌟 Blogging

keep-calm-and-enjoy-blogging-5If you are planning on starting a blog and have a copy of all of your reviews from Amazon, courtesy of ARAT or your own foresight, you have ready made content! Just because they are still on Amazon today, doesn’t mean they will be there tomorrow. Remember, Amazon is sifting through the reviews with their new algorithm removing content if the Reviewer was excessive or did not follow policy. Amazon Removing Some Reviews

Even if you already blog, you might be like me and only have a small percentage of your reviews on your blog. Having more reviews on your blog is a great way to showcase your work to potential sponsors (Sellers who either give you products or money in exchange for a potential review or endorsement.)

If you need to start a blog I recommend WordPress. You can get a free account and they even have free templates. They have a great Support Forum too. I can post some places for free tutorials for WordPress and I can offer some support to other WordPress users if you have a problem with your blog. There are other places to get free blogs but I don’t know as much about them, if anyone wants to recommend what you use, I would be happy to add it to this post.

If you are looking for a company for a self hosted blog, I use SiteGround and have been extremely happy with it. It is only $3.95 a month. If you already have a blog but want to move for some reason, you can get free site migration and up to 6 months of free hosting bonus added to your new account for unused time with your current host. (Please note, I do receive a referral bonus, but that is not the intent of this post.)

🌟 Social Media Reviews

keep-calm-and-review-on-social-mediaSocial media just keeps growing and growing and Sponsors are taking advantage of people like us who are usually micro-influencers! A micro-influencer can sometimes market products more effectively than an Influencer who has hundreds of thousands of followers and up. (Blogging is technically social media but for my purposes right now I am keeping it separate because it takes more effort to get started.) If you haven’t already, create your social media accounts and start to build up your network, your followers and friends. The number of people in your network is one of the things that Sponsors look at when choosing who to work with. I will share some tips on how to do this if you want, in the meantime I would recommend these as the most popular social media sites to be on: Facebook with a Facebook Page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. For YouTube you need a Google+ account which you may have already if you use Gmail. Do you have to do all of them, of course not! Especially if you are new to any of them, go ahead and create your accounts but concentrate on 1 or 2 at a time or you may quickly become overwhelmed.

As you are creating your new accounts, or even if you have existing accounts, think about branding. First of all, do you want your personal and review accounts as the same account? Second of all, think about your name. If you have a blog, your social media accounts should reflect your blog name in some way. This can get tricky, especially if your blog name is long, not all social media accounts allow the same number of characters in your name. Some of the services will let you change your name, on others it is harder to do, so think about it first.

🌟 Other Opportunities

keep-calm-and-review-on-other-online-retailersMany other online retailers have successful review programs. There are a few FB groups that I know of that are already working with many retailers, if you know of any that are looking for additional members, please let us know! I will share a list once I have the admins approval. There are also a few websites I can think of that put you in contact with different brands. So if you just enjoy the ease of posting on one site, similar to what many people did on Amazon, those opportunities are out there.

🌟 Amazon

keep-calm-and-keep-reviewing-your-own-purchases-on-amazonReviewing on Amazon is not going away. You can still review books. I plan to still review what I purchase myself. I just enjoy writing and it makes me feel productive. We buy an awful lot of things on Amazon because I am home bound and need an easy way to shop. I know some people feel like Reviewers have been treated poorly by Amazon and I agree that there are things they could have done differently. They have a huge challenge ahead of them to now improve their Customer Service from top level management down, not just at the Help Desk level.

However, they are still the largest online marketplace and a great place to show off your ability to write a well-written review and/or your talent making videos in order to be found by Sellers looking for people to do posts on social media. Don’t forget, you can still pitch to Sellers on Amazon to do reviews on your blog or other social media accounts.

🌟 What’s next for this little blog that started out to help other people learn about Reviewing on Amazon??? Well, it has turned into much more than I planned and I really love it. At times my health gets in the way, but no worries, I always show back up!

keep-calm-and-remember-that-life-is-about-the-map-we-follow-and-the-treasures-we-find-along-the-wayIf there is interest in learning about social media reviewing, I would be happy to share what I know and research what I don’t. There are lots of other things now that I talk about on this site and maybe there isn’t enough interest in reviewing anymore. I plan to send out a survey to see what you all are interested in. so you will really have to let me know what you all enjoy, want, and need. I love still being able to help other people because I learn so much myself along the way.

👑 Coming up I have some inspirational quotes, coloring links to add, craft ideas for colorists, some boring health updates (that help my soul to share, thank you!), and some re-blogging of some really wonderful things from other incredible people I have been wanting to share!

💗 Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


 

Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews

Questions and Answers With Amazon About Writing Reviews

Last week I promised you I would be asking some specific questions about reviewing to Amazon and then sharing with you what I learned.  

questions-and-answers-with-amazon-about-writing-reviews-frostedI addressed my email to Jeff Bezos himself so that I could be sure that whatever answer I received was carefully considered and not just from someone at the Help Desk who may or may not really understand what I was asking, much less what the right answers are. I wanted an answer from a top-level executive at Amazon that I could trust.

After receiving my email, Jeff asked Jennifer P. (why does no one who works at Amazon ever use their full last name?) to respond on his behalf. Jennifer, who works in Executive Customer Relations, responded right away and let me know that she would need some time so that she could work directly with the Communities team on my list of questions.

Here is the text of the letter I sent to Jeff.  You can see full screenshots of the email that I sent and the emails that I received in response by clicking here.



Dear Mr. Bezos,

There are multiple emails from executives at Amazon circulating among the Reviewer Community that seem to contradict one another. By going straight to the top, my expectation is that I will have the answers that are needed so that responsible reviewers will be in compliance with Amazon’s policies.  I can then help distribute this to other responsible reviewers to share with as many other people as possible.
 
I am going to try and keep this cut and dried so that nothing is left to interpretation. All of these can be answered with a Yes or No.
 
1. Are hobbyist Reviewers going against Amazon policy if they use the services of a website, Facebook group, email group, or other organizations to come in contact with Sellers who are offering products at a lower than advertised price, as long as the TOS or rules of the business state that there is no expectation of a review in exchange for the product? 
 
1a. Once they receive the product and test it, are they going against Amazon policy to write a review?
 
2. Are Reviewers going against Amazon policy if they accept a gift that is shipped directly from the seller, and then write a review for that gift, as long as there is no expectation of a review?
 
2a. Are Reviewers going against Amazon policy, in the same situation as above, except that the gift is shipped via Amazon? 
 
3. Are Reviewers allowed to use gift cards supplied by a Seller to order products if they are for the full price of the item and nothing more, or are only promotional codes allowed to be used? 
 
3a. Just to verify, a gift card ends in 4 digits and a promotional code in 6 digits correct? 
 
4. Is a disclosure (disclaimer) required when you leave a review if it is written for a product you received at a lower price than what is currently advertised on Amazon if there was no expectation of a review when the product was offered?
 
4a. Does the disclosure have to stipulate whether it was free vs whether it was received at a discount, or is a general disclosure permissible? 
 
5. If no disclosure is required, isn’t that against FTC guidelines? 
 
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I know that if Reviewers have some concrete answers to these questions, you will find that every effort is made to follow the policy by the vast majority of people who write reviews. 
 
In the past, problems have gotten out of control because there was too much left open to interpretation. In fact, it would be wonderful that if a disclosure is required, you gave us a specific one to use. Just as the Vine Program is clearly identifiable by their badge and no disclosure is necessary, if hobbyist Reviewers had a common disclosure to use it would make things much easier for everyone. 
 
With My Sincerest Gratitude,
Lynn Marie White


As you can tell, I really took into consideration the questions I have read going around in all the different groups I belong to, questions anyone sent me, and things I read on message boards and forums.
I wanted everything to be very clear so nothing would be left to interpretation and no one could argue the facts. I really did try to  make it so specific that a Yes or No answer would be easy for Amazon to provide. Many of these executives are so used to speaking in legalese that perhaps they forget that for the average person, reading their TOS, Community Guidelines, or page about Promotional Content can leave some of us confused at times. I must say, they are getting better and I do think this last change in wording helps define our role more than it did previously. 

At times, change comes with chaos, though. There are so many emails from Amazon executives making the rounds that contradict one another, messages from the help desk that also contradict one another, and some that don’t even make sense. Maybe we should have a contest to see who has received the craziest answer to a recent question about reviewing from Amazon!

That chaos is only taking into consideration the written content from Amazon that I have seen. The rumor mill is out of control with all kinds of crazy speculation from Reviewers, Sellers, Admins, and website representatives too. I will caution you strongly to not believe everything you read and I hope that you have followed what I suggested when the news of the changes started making the rounds, Wait Until the Dust Settles! 

So what are the facts?


First email I received from Jennifer P. 

Hello Lynn,

I’m Jennifer of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your e­mail and asked me to respond on his behalf.

Thanks so much for sharing your questions regarding Amazon’s review policies ­­ we appreciate our reviewers wanting to be in compliance and I’m happy to answer your questions.

Lynn, because I want to ensure you’re provided the most accurate response to each of your questions, I’m collaborating directly with our Communities team and it’ll take a bit longer than usual. I truly appreciate your patience and I’ll have a thorough response by 4 PM PDT on Tuesday October 11, 2016.

You’ve been a valuable member of our Prime family for 5 years and we appreciate your patronage. I’ll be in touch Tuesday and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the links below to tell us about your experience today.

Best regards,

Jennifer P.
Executive Customer Relations

Second email I received from Jennifer:

Hello Lynn,

As you recall, I’m Jennifer of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. I appreciate your patience while I collaborated with our Communities team regarding your inquiry.

We updated the community guidelines to prohibit incentivized reviews unless they are facilitated through the Amazon Vine program.

We do not permit tying a free or discounted product or other benefit to a review, whether or not a review is expressly required. These reviews are prohibited, whether or not the benefit is disclosed in the review:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730

In order to preserve the integrity of Community content, promotional content is only allowed in limited circumstances, and must always be clearly and conspicuously disclosed as promotional content if not obvious from the context:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_left_v4_sib?ie=UTF8&…

Please note we do not have information in addition to what is already provided in our help pages and we’re not able to offer additional insight on these matters. We appreciate your understanding.

Best regards,

Jennifer P.
Executive Customer Relations

Thank you.
Amazon.com


 

blue transparent checkmarkThe fact is that unless you are in the Vine Program, do not write a review on Amazon for anything* that you have not purchased yourself with your own valid credit or debit card.  

I would recommend that you not even load up gift cards anymore and use those to make purchases, especially if you might write a review for the product. I know loading up gift cards can often entitle you to a credit, but now, your gift card purchase could result in a loss of your account privileges if you forget and write a review for something you ordered with it.

* There is one exception to this policy, if you are a bibliophile like myself, you will be happy to know that this does not apply to books. The following statement is from the Community Guidelines page. “Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.” A disclosure is required to be in compliance with Amazon’s policy in regards to Promotional Content. 

I understand that there are people telling us that it is okay to write a review because no one has asked for a review. Here is what Amazon has said that addresses that statement:

“We do not permit tying a free or discounted product or other benefit to a review,
whether or not a review is expressly required.
These reviews are prohibited, whether or not the benefit is disclosed in the review:”

I have been going through the multitude of emails I have received from websites and some of the groups that I have belonged to that ran promotions. I am sure you are getting them too. They are all saying that the rules have changed and they have changed with them. 

Many are changing their rules, guidelines, or TOS and saying that a review on Amazon is in no way required in order to receive a product promotional code through them. They are claiming that the choice is totally up to you whether you want to leave a review, and in fact, you won’t be breaking Amazon’s policy if you do leave a review. They are calling sellers and reviewers 2themselves shops and stores and you are now a shopper or some other similar term, anything but a Reviewer.

It is true that their rules have changed and they don’t require a review to get a code. You can go to Amazon and order the product, the code you get will work just like it did before. But if you write a review on Amazon, you are in breach of Amazon’s policy. I know some of you are thinking that there is no way that Amazon can track people who are doing this, there are so many Sellers and so many Reviewers that they will never be able to find out if you do,

My background is in software development and business management and I am telling you straight up that I know for a fact how easy it would be for Amazon to track this and wipe the Sellers and Reviewers who are participating in this type of activity, It is my opinion that the long periods between updates in rankings have not just been computer glitches or periods of time to just wipe groups of reviewers. They have used that time to upgrade their servers, work on their database structure, develop algorithms (software scripts that analyze data to do things like track Seller and Reviewer interactions, reviewing patterns, review content, Reviewer to Reviewer relationships, and anything else you can imagine), write and develop new software, test it all out, and assuredly have it up and running by now.

Amazon has already let us know that some of our reviews will be deleted retroactively if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy. You can read about that here in my post, Amazon Removing Some Reviews.  I really believe that the operative phrase there is “if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy.” I do not think they will remove every single review all of us ever wrote in exchange for a promotional code. As long as both the Reviewer and Seller were in compliance when it was written, it should not be deleted. I know many people didn’t think about what a Seller might be up to and were just concerned about being in compliance themselves. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and it has been and always will be a symbiotic relationship, remember the article about Keyword Searching, Wishlisting, and Other Seller Requests where I talked about how working with someone who did these types of things put your account in jeopardy, even if you didn’t do the special request but did a review for them. It is too bad that at times we weren’t aware of some of the tactics Sellers used or the ones to avoid.

So, do we all stop writing Amazon reviews? No, if you really enjoy writing reviews there is no reason to stop, as long as you write the review for something that you paid for yourself. In fact, there are many reasons to keep writing reviews on Amazon, one of the most important reasons being your ranking. Having a solid ranking is still a great way for Sellers to discover you. I will share more about the other benefits of continuing to write reviews on Amazon later, this post is long enough as it is!

Promotions and free products are not going to go away. They have always been a successful way of marketing, especially for new products. In the future, I will be writing more about other social media reviewing and how to market yourself to Sellers differently now. 

Looking at the facts that Amazon provided, do you agree? Even here on my blog, I urge everyone to look at the facts. I always try to show some evidence if I am saying that things should be done a certain way or in explaining what something means. I can be wrong just as well as the next person, so don’t feel shy about speaking up if you disagree. None of us can learn if we don’t share our knowledge and beliefs with others and be open to discussion about those differences.

I am looking forward to this next stage of development and feel more confident knowing whether I am doing the right thing when it comes to writing reviews on Amazon. The uncertainty surrounding the interpretation of Amazon’s former TOS can be put to rest and we can move forward together. Even those unfortunate Reviewers who were actually honest and good at what they did, but lost their accounts, have huge opportunities moving forward.

Those reviewers who took advantage of the system are out of luck. A  Seller won’t be giving anything to someone who does nothing valid to promote their product.  On Amazon, some Sellers put up with it because perceived sells, the number of positive reviews, and many other metrics improved their Amazon ranking.  Social media reviewing is a whole other game, you need to know what you are doing and not just be a number to the Seller.

if-it-looks-like-a-duck-and-quacks-like-a-duck-then-it-is-probably-a-duck


Thoughts? I would love to hear what you think about this post and how Amazon responded. Do you agree with my conclusion? Do you disagree, if so, why? I love hearing from you all, it is the most important reason I do my blog so let’s hear from you!

Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way

We have a new map going forward with Amazon and Reviewing in general. You all are the treasures I have found along the way!


Reviewing :: Backing Up Your Reviews With ARAT

Reviewing :: Backing Up Your Reviews With ARAT

keep-calm-and-back-up-your-reviewsARAT, which stands for Amazon Reviewer Analysis Tool, was developed by Kirk Hodges as a tool for his wife to use. She is a hobbyist reviewer who enjoys writing reviews on Amazon like many of us. Talk about a great gift for your wife, way to go, Kirk!

In light of Amazon’s announcement (read more here) that they may be deleting some of our previously published reviews, many people are wondering what they can do to get a copy of their reviews. Having a copy of your reviews is always a good thing to have and is especially important right now. If you have copies of all of your reviews, it will be easy to turn those into a blog if you haven’t already. 

If you haven’t downloaded it yet, here is the link: ARAT kghodgessoftware  I use the full version myself. Kirk has provided excellent documentation on his website on how to download and use this great tool. 

I know most of you are just going to use it to download a copy of your reviews. It has some great functionality built in though that I will talk about when I post about being a well-balanced reviewer. 

I think this information posted on his website is a great overview:

Currently, ARAT provides functionality to:

  • Extract data from existing reviews in order to graph rating tendencies across reviews.
  • Store data from previous ARAT extractions in order to graph rating tendencies over time.
  • Organize data from extraction in order to chart voting behavior on reviews over time.
  • Analyze Vine selections to chart the reviewer’s review percentage on received Vine items.
  • Extract unrated purchase data in order to help the reviewer decide what to review next.
  • Automate extraction runs through a command line interface that can be programmed to run on schedule.

Along with the wonderful documentation, Kirk has provided, another reviewer recently made a video on how she uses it. A huge shout out to Meghan Robledo for allowing me to use this on my blog! Please take some time to check out her blog at Robledo Reviews. She is just transferring over from a different service, so give her a bit to have it moved and fixed up, but be sure to check it out! It is so kind of her to share this with us!

In regards to Downloading and Saving your reviews, Meghan shows you an excellent way. I do it a little bit differently so that everything is easier for me instead of being in Notepad. Once you have all of your reviews displayed on the ARAT screen, go to File ~ Print ~ Reviews. It will process everything into a file but it isn’t saved yet. Go up to the Print icon in the top left corner and click on that.  You could print everything out onto paper if you want, but I use the dropdown menu that will now be displayed and pick Print to PDF instead. I can then save an electronic file that is easy to work with, I just have to copy and paste the text into what I want. 


This will not work on Apple products. If that is all you have, let me know and I will see what I can do. You will have to give me your Amazon profile ID though in order for me to run a report for you. I don’t need your password, just the letter/number combination from your profile. 

Please let me know if you need any help. 


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Amazon Removing Some Reviews

Amazon Removing Some Reviews

If you are a Reviewer on Amazon, some of your reviews may be removed. The key word here is may. Make sure you read until the end of the post to find out how to tell if any of your reviews have been removed and one way to save a copy of your reviews if you don’t already have one.

 

Yesterday Amazon sent out a copy of this email to all Reviewers.

amazonemail-we-may-remove reviews

Please read this carefully. It says that reviews are being retroactively removed if they are excessive or do not comply with the previous policy. If you followed policy before, you should not be affected too much, if not at all.  What is excessive? Of course, we do not know what they believe excessive is. If you are submitting more than 100 a month, that is probably excessive, but that is only my opinion. What was the policy they will probably be looking for? Having the correct disclosure displayed prominently on all of your reviews.

There is one other thing that may have been out of your control and could have gotten you wiped before now or will affect whether some of your reviews are removed.  Remember, you are not in this alone. Think about who you got the product from and what Amazon is also looking for when it comes to Sellers.  There are many Sellers who are losing their accounts too now. If a Seller loses their account, all of their product listings are taken down and so that means that your review is also removed. I know I have mentioned in several different posts about working with Sellers that you know do things that are against Seller TOS. Even if you don’t do their special request but do a review for them, Amazon only sees the data relationship between you.  They aren’t going to go to each Reviewer and ask you if they fulfilled a request for something special. They are just going to wipe those reviews that are associated with that Seller and product.

Remember, your disclosure has to have said if it was for free or if it was a discounted item. Having a general disclosure was not acceptable. An example of a general disclosure is: I received this as a promotional item. I received this for free or at a discount. I received this in exchange for the sample. The words free or discount(ed) had to be in the disclosure according to Amazon. For the full article about Disclosures, please click here. 

free-vs-discount-product-for-review-amazon-tos-changes

How will you know what Amazon deletes, if they delete any of yours? If you have not been keeping copies of your reviews or at know how many reviews you have written, now is the time to take notice. You can find the number of reviews you have written by looking at your Public Reviews Written By You page on Amazon. You have to be signed in to see this page. If the link is not working for you, you can get to it by going to Your Account and scrolling down to the bottom to Personalization. 

I use ARAT to keep track of my reviews, I will get a quick tutorial together on this asap for anyone interested. The directions the developer has written up are actually very good.  In the meantime, you can download it here: ARAT kghodgessoftware  It is a great analysis tool that not only lets you keep track of the reviews you have written, but run various reports on your reviews. You can also print copies of your reviews from ARAT.

keep-calm-and-dont-write-reviews-until-the-dust-settles
For now, I recommend you to take a break and relax. Do not do anything. At this point, we need to set back and see what happens in the next few days. I know some people and groups are urging you to write your reviews with no disclosure (or disclaimer as it is sometimes called). It is against the law to write a review without a disclosure according to the FTC. The FTC trumps Amazon. The fines can be very high if you are caught doing this. Even if you are writing short reviews on social media, they need a disclosure. 


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Amazon TOS :: Fact or Fiction, Again!

Amazon TOS :: Fact or Fiction, Again!


Amazon TOS ChangesAre the words Amazon TOS and change coming up in your thoughts and in discussions too much lately? Are you having trouble keeping up with the changes and don’t know where to go for answers right now? Are you feeling more and more confused? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone and I do have some great advice for you. 

I took a quick look around on the internet today and stopped in at some of the “watering holes” where reviewers congregate. I have read multiple emails from different companies and individuals involved with the Reviewer Community, many of from the Seller side of things also. I have read and re-read the new Guidelines for Amazon.com Community ParticipationThe section that affects those of us who love to write product reviews is under the Promotions and Commercial Solicitations section. 


Promotions and Commercial Solicitations

As that reads, it seems that writing a review is no longer allowed on Amazon if a review has been, or is, requested. I know I have many open reviews that I promised to do on Amazon, three of them are very expensive products and now the Sellers are left without a review. I have been trying out the products so I can’t return them, they are no longer new.

Do I publish them with a different disclosure, or maybe no disclosure at all?

Are the different sites where we often find products going to shut down and if they don’t are they breaking TOS?

Can Sellers contact us directly and ask us to review a product? Can we pitch to Sellers?

What about the FB groups and email groups, so many of them are handing out conflicting information, who is right?

The best thing any of us can do right now is to sit back and wait for the dust to settle.  My advice to you is to take a break and do not to publish any reviews on Amazon at all right now.  If you are on a deadline for something, contact the Seller and discuss different options like posting to social media. If you go to them with a plan in mind I think they will readily agree with you.  You do not want to make a mistake at this juncture and jeopardize your account.  If there is someone pressuring you to publish a review on Amazon, please consider whether or not that product, that person, or that group is worth the possibility of losing your account.

In the meantime, I am sure there will be more information forthcoming from Amazon, or at least from different people that have contacted Customer Service and have some verified answers to these questions and more. Consider this a vacation, you deserve one anyway! Take some time off from Reviewing and relax. Enjoy the Fall weather and the changes all around us. Do something special for yourself or a neighbor who could use a helping hand.

I will let you know what I come up with, probably sometime over the weekend or at the first of next week. I know that may seem like a long time when we are so used to being on deadlines and in a hurry. This is really going to be a time to reflect on if you want to continue writing reviews and then consider the best way to go about it if you do want to continue. If you still have an account after all of the wipes the last few months, so many of them senseless, then you really do need to do everything you can to safeguard your account. Giving yourself a few days to consider what you have learned and what I can verify is more than fair enough considering the major changes that have been made lately.

If there are other specific questions you are concerned about, please leave them below so I can gather lots of feedback at one time as I go about verification of  my own questions and yours. It is easier if they are shared here instead of individually through email, thanks!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Amazon TOS :: No More Reviews in Exchange for Samples

Amazon TOS :: No More Reviews in Exchange for Samples

Amazon has once again changed their TOS. If you currently write product reviews in exchange for free or discounted products, the rules have changed and we will no longer be allowed to do this on Amazon. You can certainly still publish your reviews on other outlets, but it seems like the average reviewer will be out of luck when it comes to finding products to review.

If you have huge followings on social media sites, you may still have many opportunities available and it is not too late to build up those social media accounts if you would still like to review products.

If you enjoy reviewing books, you may still receive an advance copy, but they can not ask you to write a review. The Amazon Vine program is also not going away.

I see more emphasis being placed on their new badges of Enthusiasts but who knows where that will go. Encouraging people to ask and answer questions about products is not the way to go in my opinion. How many times have you read 6 answers to one question that all tell you the exact same thing or someone who answers that “they don’t know” to every question posted!

For myself, I am going to hang back and see where this leads. My blog gets pretty good traffic at times so I may still have the opportunity to publish reviews here. I have several commitments to finish in the meantime also.

Even without reviews, my blog won’t be going away. 🙂


Product Review :: Home Security Camera

Product Review :: Home Security Camera

Smarson HD WIFI Home Security Camera, Baby Monitor, App Controlled, Up to 5 Viewers

Easy set up, fantastic child monitor, loads of functionality

I ordered this WIFI camera to use in our kitchen and dining room area. We have had it about a month now and I am so happy with how it is working out. I have it paired with my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Bluetooth 4.0, Android 5.0.

We have other security cameras set up in the house and have tried to work with a few inexpensive cameras that were better off returned. My husband and I are both amazed at how easy this was to set up and with the functionality of this.

Advantages:
Easy to set up
No wiring needed, everything is through WIFI
Camera is easy to operate through app and camera
I can have 5 preset views
I can pan and zoom, left and right, up and down
Two-way communication
You can set up motion alerts

Disadvantages:
The directions could use some refinement when it comes to details. With a little common sense though it is easy to figure out.

If you are looking for a baby monitor I would highly recommend this. We have a camera in our youngest son’s room just so I can easily keep an eye on him. He is old enough now he doesn’t really need it but since my health makes it difficult to get around, it really helps. Since it is a fixed mount camera I can only see certain areas of the room. When he is anywhere on the floor playing or in his reading nook, I can’t see him. A camera like this would be much more helpful in a young child’s room as a monitor. With the two-way audio, you could soothe a young child back to sleep with a few comforting words without always having to get up.

The reason we wanted a camera in the kitchen once again has to do with my health. Since the stairs are almost impossible for me at times, my youngest does a lot of the leg work around the house for me. Now that he is in middle school, his chores have increased, especially in the kitchen. With the great features on this camera that make it possible for me to follow his every move, I can ‘virtually’ help him out with his chores by lending advice on the best ways to clean certain messes or where certain things need to be put away. He can hear me great without any added speaker on the camera. If you are handicapped, a camera like this can be extremely helpful with your older children as well as your younger ones.

We also like to be able to send our son to the kitchen for a snack and not have to worry about him getting into something he shouldn’t have. He loves sugary snacks but is borderline diabetic. If there is sugar in the house, I swear that child can smell it! Now I can watch and make sure he isn’t searching through the baking supplies or sneaking a treat his dad has saved for a special treat.

I haven’t been able to use it with any Kindle tablets but those are compatibility issues that many apps and hardware combinations are finding. A Kindle, or should I now say Fire tablet, runs on a hybrid Android system so not everything works as it is supposed to.

As far as rating this security system goes I would normally deduct a star for poor instructions but the actual ease of set up and use more than makes up for it. If we were able to rate with partial stars, this would probably rate at around 4.80 all things considered.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Smarson HD WIFI Home Security Camera, Baby Monitor, App Controlled, Up to 5 Viewers on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#smarssen


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: #Smarssen Heart Rate Monitor

Product Review :: #Smarssen Heart Rate Monitor
Product Review :: #Smarssen Heart Rate Monitor


Smarssen Portable Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor, iOS and Android Compatible


Accurate and Comfortable

I experience sinus tachycardia when I move around so I like to keep an eye on my heart rate. I have been considering the different ways to do it. In the past, I have had to wear a portable holtor monitor prescribed my doctor for various lengths of time but to purchase one of those on my own would be too expensive. I was fortunate to come across this Bluetooth heart rate monitor because it will work with various apps and I have found several that work for what I want. I need something that I can wear that will monitor my heart 24/7 so that I will not only have verification of any immediate problems but also have access to data that both my doctor and I can look at to recognize any patterns or trends with my heart rate.

The phone I paired this with is a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, Bluetooth 4.0, Android 5.0.

#Smarssen Heart Rate Monitor

Advantages:
* Works with multiple apps, you can find the one that works best for your needs
* iOS and Android compatible
* Accurate – I measured this against 2 different oximeters and BP monitor
* Band is comfortable to wear, adjustable for many different sizes
* You are able to wash the band, huge plus when you wear something constantly
* Device attaches/detaches easily, no tangle of wires
* Easy to manage by myself
* I can see right away when my HR is staying high for too long a period of time and then do what i can to get it down myself with medication or rest vs going to the ER.
* With the advantage of working with so many apps, everyone is bound to find one that tracks the kinds of things they are interested in be it just plain HR shown on the display of your phone to elaborate charts and graphs displaying your HR data along with your exercise statistics.

Disadvantages:
* The directions could have been a little more explicit when it comes to how the device pairs with apps (it doesn’t pair through Bluetooth scanning, but through scanning within each app) and the need for the band to be very moist in order to work. I really don’t like that the band has to be wet to work. It is not only uncomfortable, once it dries I loose my connectivity and then have to go through the pairing process again.

#Smarssen Heart Rate MonitorIdeally, it would have been nice if this monitor came with its own app. Many of the ones that were recommended didn’t work because of different updates to them or changes in compatibility. I am not done searching for the perfect app yet, but for my use as a 24/7 monitor I have been using primarily BLE Heart Rate Monitor, HRMonitor, and MotiFIT which I found all on Google Play. I will update this review as I find more apps that are useful for monitoring your HR 24/7. I am not really interested in all of the apps that were recommended in the first place since they are more for monitoring your heart rate during exercise. My exercise is walking as far as the bathroom and brushing my teeth.

In fact, the change you see here of an average HR of 75 to a high of 121 was when I simply walked into the bathroom and back.  You can see that something as simple as walking raises my HR, so it is important that I keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t get dangerously high.

I am excited to show my doctor this heart rate monitor on my next visit along with some data, once I decide which app I like the best. This is such a reasonably priced product (under $40.00 at the time of this review) that anyone who has an interest in or really needs to be monitoring their heart rate will be able to justify the cost easily. It is probably much less expensive than your copay if you have to wear an holtor monitor or event monitor for any length of time.

Please note, many of the pictures are of the apps I have been using. I wanted you to be able to get a feel for the kind of data you will see and so you will know that it was actually tested and used. What you will receive when you get this is the monitor, elastic band, battery, and battery compartment tool. Which app you choose is up to you.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was selected to receive this Smarssen Portable Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor, iOS and Android Compatible at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own, and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#Smarssen


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Amazon TOS Changes :: Increase in Minimum Purchases to Write a Review, Again

Amazon TOS Changes :: Increase in Minimum Purchases to Write a Review, Again

I have just read that Amazon has changed their Customer Review Creation Guidelines once again. Last month we saw them make an addition to their TOS (Terms of Service) requiring anyone that wanted to leave a review for a product must first have spent a total of  $5.00 on Amazon using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts wouldn’t go towards that minimum.

Today, that $5.00 change has been increased to a minimum of $50.00 total worth of purchases on a valid credit or debit card in order to be able to write a product review.

Amazon TOS changes

This link will take you to the complete Customer Creation Guidelines.

Up to that point, anyone who wanted to could write a product review. There have been 3 sets of lawsuits filed in the past year against companies and individuals that were paying for reviews or that used tactics on their product promotion websites that were against Amazon TOS.

Do you think the increase to $50.00 is warranted? It is steep but it will certainly curb the huge number of fake profiles being created in order to write reviews in exchange for money. Many Reviewers may feel this is targeted at the Reviewer Community but I see it as targeting unscrupulous Sellers who will try anything to manipulate their ranking.

As a reminder, any special Seller requests are against Amazon TOS.  Even if you refuse to do the request but receive a product from that Seller, your account is still in jeopardy.  When a Seller loses their account, Amazon is more than likely to also wipe all known Reviewers who have worked with them. Keyword Searches, Wishlisting, and Other Seller Requests are manipulation, plain and simple. This includes asking you to write and/or answer questions on a product listing. Amazon is not going to stop and ask who has participated in these things for certain Sellers, they are just going to wipe all of the Reviewers who are associated with them through writing reviews. Please, if a Seller asks you to do anything special, don’t do it. Let them know that what they are asking is against Amazon TOS, they may not know. If it is obvious they do know, report them.

What do you think? Leave a Comment below, would love to hear from you!


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: #AmazaPens 20 Pack Super Glitter

Product Review :: #AmazaPens 20 Pack Super Glitter


AmazaPens Gel Pens, 20 Pack Super Glitter | 150% More Ink than Other Sets | Best for Adding Sparkle to Your Adult Coloring Books and Art Projects


5 Star Glitter!

 

This set of glitter gel pens really is spectacular! They are incredibly smooth, much smoother than you would ever expect from a glitter gel pen. I go through a lot of coloring supplies, especially gel pens. After all, what girly girl who grew up in the 80’s could resist gel pens, especially ones with glitter? Along with a video review, I will be attaching a color chart, some blending examples, and a mandala I colored with these along with actual images of the gel pens themselves.

Advantages:

#amazapens
* Smooth, even ink that fills the fiber of the paper with deep color
* Medium point tip keeps the glitter and ink flowing without clogging
* 20 unique colors
* Nice comfort pen grip to help ease any strain from coloring too long
* No bleeding through to the back, a huge plus for these pens
* Ink dries quickly so no smearing under normal conditions BUT not so quickly that you can’t blend if you want to.
* Colors identified by the cap and by the end of pen
#amazapens gel pens* Write on a variety of different paper types including glossy paper
* Non-toxic and acid-free so can be used even for scrapbooking and anything else heirloom-related

Disadvantages:

* Like with most pens you use to color with, these will leave some lines on the page with some impressions so if you have something on the back of the page you want to preserve, you might want to make a copy of what you want to color instead of coloring in the book.

#amazapens color chartRecommendation:

* If you like glitter and you like gel pens, these are the perfect glitter gel pens for you. I love that they have 20 distinct colors that aren’t too close to each other in shade. The ink flows so nicely filling in the paper fiber and leaving great color behind. These pens have a multitude of uses for any kind of craft you are interested in.and tons of everyday uses too.

One thing I did want to mention is the amount of ink in these pens. It doesn’t exactly say how much ink is in each pen, which would have been nice since they are making the claim that they will last 2.5 times longer. I have noticed though that so far the ink levels are staying nice even though I have been using them a lot. A few of them I have even been using on a daily basis as writing pens and I haven’t had any noticeable change in the level of ink yet.

Changing the size of the tube that holds the ink was a great idea. As soon as one of them runs out I will take it apart and do some measuring for future reference. This is something that some companies may really manipulate and as consumers, we would never think to look before this.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered these AmazaPens Gel Pens, 20 Pack Super Glitter | 150% More Ink than Other Sets | Best for Adding Sparkle to Your Adult Coloring Books and Art Projects. on Amazon and received them for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: Relaxing Sleep Tea #RelaxingSleepTea

Product Review :: Relaxing Sleep Tea #RelaxingSleepTea

Relaxing Sleep Tea – 2 Sizes – Herbal Bedtime Calming Aid – Helps Insomnia and Anxiety – Peaceful Mind and Body – Organic Superior Quality by Cuppa Magic


 

Refreshing sleep with the benefits of aromatherapy, I love the way this smells!

 

I love anything natural that can improve my lifestyle. I deal with numerous health issues so anything that can help me that doesn’t have to be prescribed I am all for! Due to back problems and chronic pain, I have a difficult time sleeping. I can fall asleep in a heartbeat but can’t stay asleep due to the pain. This cuppa magic tea is just the thing I have needed.

Advantages:

#relaxingsleeptea #cuppamagic*  Natural ingredients
*  Smells heavenly
*  Tastes great
*  Helps me sleep longer
*  Beneficial for so many things besides sleep
*  Individually packaged, no measuring needed
*  Package is resealable
* I have been studying natural ingredients for the last year and I have learned that the things they claim their ingredients help, actually do!

Disadvantages:

* None, I love it and it works.

I especially love the way this tea tastes and smells. I love tea anyway, I have always loved the tea ceremonies of Japan and the countless mystery novels I have read set in the Golden Age of England have instilled it in me. There is a science to the perfect cuppa. Having this pre-measured in individual packages takes the science out of it. All that you have to do is add water at your preferred temperature and let it steep, I let mine steep for just under 10 minutes so that I can enjoy the aromatherapy of it. If the tea is too strong for you, you can add some milk that has been slightly warmed, try some honey or sugar, or even just not let it steep for as long.

There is a strong scent of the orient in this tea, that probably comes from the Ginger and Saffron combined with Spearmint. It reminds me of the scent of Singapore that I used to love so much when I traveled more. It is a light floral scent that once you smell it, you will instantly recognize it. I don’t think that many people realize just how powerful a scent can be, I have no doubt that the aromatherapy effects of this tea no doubt help to put you in the right mood for a relaxing nights sleep.

It is important to have a routine built around sleep and preparing for bed. This is the perfect thing to add to your routine. You should drink this at least an hour before you go to bed to give it a chance to get into your system. I don’t think that I will ever sleep all night again because of my pain, but the sleep that I do experience after drinking this is a deeper sleep that leaves me more refreshed.

Ingredient List With Benefits: (provided by Cuppa Magic)

Chamomile: stress & sleep disorders – gastrointestinal disorders including ulcers – menstrual pain – reducing rashes, pimples & scars

Ginger Root: stomach upsets, indigestion & nausea – fight infections – lower cholesterol – improve brain function

Saffron: promote learning & memory – cell formation & repair – maintain blood pressure – disease prevention

Licorice: heal ulcers – relieve pain & stress – calm liver inflammation – PMS

#cuppamagicFennel Seeds: reduce toxic effect of alcohol – digestive disorders – as appetite suppressant – cough & phlegm problems

Rose Buds: clear toxins from internal organs – prevent infections – fight depression & bring inner peace – clear acne & moisturize the skin

Spearmint: improve circulation & reduce stress on blood vessels – fresh breath – nervous strain & fatigue – hormonal balance

Rose Hips: reduces pain, stiffness & joint inflammation – respiratory problems – boost immunity

Lemon Grass: hydrates the skin – eye problems – relax the senses decreasing stress – boost metabolic process aiding digestion

Tulsi Holy Basil: detoxifying & purifying – digestion – relieve headaches – prevent kidney stones by reducing uric acid

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this RELAXING SLEEP TEA – 2 Sizes – Herbal Bedtime Calming Aid – Helps Insomnia and Anxiety – Peaceful Mind and Body – Organic Superior Quality – With Ginger Root – Chamomile – Holy Basil – Saffron on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#RelaxingSleepTea


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: Set of Solar Lights #GardenLight

Product Review :: Set of Solar Lights #GardenLight


Ohuhu Solar Garden Light, Solar Powered LED Lantern Light for Gardening, Outdoor, Patio, Pathway, Wall, Ground, Hanging Mount, 2 Pack


 

Attractive design with plenty of advantages!

 

Anyone who knows me knows that I love options and this solar light set is full of options! It comes with 2 solar lights that you can mount on a wall, use the included ground stakes, hang them on the shepherd’s hooks that are included, or any combination of those options. We are using these as accent lights in our backyard by our koi pond. I especially like the look of the shepherd’s hook option. It isn’t something you see everywhere. I think the option of one shepherd’s hook and the second accent nearby on a ground stake is another great look.

Advantages:

#GardenLight* Attractive design, I especially like the shepherd’s hook
* Options for installation with everything included
* Lantern part is nice size, approximately 8.5 in from base to loop
* Light bulb is approximately 3 in, light strength is average for a solar light
* On/Off switch (don’t forget to turn it on to get it to work), battery included
* If placed in full sun while charging, the charge will last around 8 hours
* Sheperd’s hook is made of metal
* Less expensive, easier to install, and no monthly charge when compared to wired lighting
* Environmentally friendly

Disadvantages:

* More care could have been taken in packaging this to ensure it arrives safely and all of the parts are easy to find in the box. I thought I was missing 2 tiny parts until I found them underneath the bottom layer of styrofoam in a gap in the box. All loose parts should be packaged together somehow like the screws were. Packaging isn’t something I usually include in a review so will not be using that as part of my rating.

These lights aren’t super bright like a security light would need to be; they are just right as accents or somewhere when you need just a little extra light to see when it is dark. It is nice that they aren’t so super bright that they ruin a lovely view at night. It is so peaceful to sit and enjoy the night sky in the backyard, I wouldn’t want something so bright that it was distracting. Make sure that these are placed in full sun to charge if you want them to last a full 8 hours. If they don’t receive a great deal of light for at least 4 hours a day, they aren’t going to last as long or be as bright as they could be.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was selected to receive this Ohuhu Solar Garden Light, Solar Powered LED Lantern Light for Gardening, Outdoor, Patio, Pathway, Wall, Ground, Hanging Mount, 2 Pack direct from the Seller, Ohuhu, for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own, and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#GardenLight


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


A Little Bit of Everything

A Little Bit of Everything


WelcomeI want to welcome the new subscribers to this blog, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of people signing up for updates just this month alone! I am so excited to have you all here. A lot of the new subscribers seem to be from Europe, how wonderful!

I know there are a few companies opening sites for Reviewers in Europe now. But I don’t want to assume anyone is here for any specific reason. I would love it if anyone at all, new to the blog or not, would like to share where you are from and what you are interested in. Are you here to learn about Reviewing, or have an interest in inspiration, coloring, or health related topics? Anything else, good old fashioned Serendipity?

Keep calm and color onFor those of you who like to color, I just posted 15 new Kindle books for you to download and print for FREE over on my FB blog page. Here is the link, Facebook :: A Treasure Chest of Serendipity to the specific post where the books are posted in the Comments. Make sure to double check the price before you order in case the price has changed.

I also noticed that many of the eBooks that I shared last on the Coloring for Adults page are still FREE, so be sure to check those out while you are at it.

I used to dreamOn to the topic of health, I have actually missed all my appointments this week. On Tuesday there was a mix up and the person I thought I had asked to take me couldn’t manage it. So I rescheduled for today but couldn’t even get out of bed to make it in. I am just managing to get up one or two times during the day to make it into the bathroom.  I am in such a great deal of pain and the heart medication I have started seems to have drained every bit of energy. Here’s a graphic I made last month for Twitter, it is even more appropriate now! It is a little tongue-in-cheek, my life isn’t a nightmare but it isn’t what I thought it would be.

When you change the way you look at thingsBut let’s end on an inspirational note. It is better to think of the things in our lives that are good instead of focusing on the things that aren’t. One of the ladies that runs the Grandfamilies organization that I am a member of has arranged something very special for our family this weekend and my heart is full of such gratitude and thankfulness to her. I will share more about it next week, I am just too tired right now… But the world is full of wonderful people and I am blessed.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Lynn Marie


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: Copper Compression Gloves

Product Review :: Copper Compression Gloves

Best Compression Gloves Copper Comfort- Helps Arthritis Speeds Recovery in Hands & Fingers – Highest Copper Percent Guaranteed Pair of Medium Gloves


Cool and Comfortable #compressioncomfort

I ordered these copper compression gloves to help with carpal tunnel and pain in my hands. I have heard for years about the benefits of copper and so copper gloves seem to be a logical step. I am trying to use more natural things in my life and for my health and have felt better for it. I ordered a size medium, if you are between sizes or in doubt, I would go larger. The material is very soft and the gloves slip on very easily. They are well sewn so I don’t have any reason to doubt their durability.

#compressioncomfort

Image courtesy of Best Bargains

When you slip them on they are comfortable to wear and not hot at all, which is something I worried about. It is easy to wear them for an extended period of time. My hands don’t swell normally but I do have a lot of pain in them. I wish I would have ordered a size Large instead because I might have been able to wear these more and got more benefit from them when it comes to pain relief.

I did like the fact that they gave good support to my wrists. These are much easier to wear than a whole wrist brace which my doctor wants me to wear for carpel tunnel. They give me enough support as a reminder to hold my wrists correctly as I type and to keep them straight when holding my tablet for extended periods of time.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered these Best Compression Gloves Copper Comfort- Helps Arthritis Speeds Recovery in Hands & Fingers – Highest Copper Percent GUARANTEED *Pair of Medium Gloves* on Amazon and received them for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Life is about the map we follow and the treasure we find along the way


Product Review :: Expandable Garden Hose

Product Review :: Expandable Garden Hose


Expandable Hose Nozzle, No Kinking Flexible Lightweight Super Strong Green Nozzle, Water Garden, Expands 3 Times From It’s Original Length, Solid All Brass Sprayer With 7-pattern Multi-functional Spray Nozzle 75ft (Lawn & Patio)
by Hosezzle


Lightweight and a great length for our yard

This is the second expandable hose that I have ordered from Amazon. I wanted to get a longer one for my husband since the first one just wasn’t long enough to get all of the jobs done that he needed to get done in the back yard.

75 expandable hoseAdvantages:
* 75 ft long
* Light weight, much easier for my husband’s bad back
* Does expand and contract as stated
* Does not leak
* Brass fittings, much better than what came on our first expandable hose
* Includes mid-grade nozzle that has 7 spray patterns
* This will connect to our other expandable hose that we already have

Disadvantages:
* I was hoping that this would work for our RV also, but it is not for potable water. Potable means you can drink it. Nonpotable means you should not drink it. I wish they would have put that in the product description since a lot of people who have RVs would love to have a hose like this one. There is a disclosure in the box though that clearly states you should not drink from this. Some of the reasons it gives are standard for any hose, but it does leave it open to questions so I would not recommend it at all for RV use, unless you need an outside hose separate from your water hose. If it was for Potable water, it should be clearly stated, and this is not.
* This hose will need a lot of care that you might not be used to having to do with a regular garden hose. It should be drained and put away after every use, somewhere out of the sun where it can lie flat.

We have only had this hose for a few weeks and used it a handful of times. I am hesitant to wholeheartedly endorse it since it hasn’t even been used a whole season yet. A garden hose is something that will take more uses than this one has had to really be sure that it is durable. So far it has been great. If anything happens with the hose to change my opinion of it, I will certainly update my review at that time.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Expandable Hose Nozzle, No Kinking Flexible Lightweight Super Strong Green Nozzle, Water Graden, Expands 3 Times From It’s Original Length, Solid All Brass Sprayer With 7-pattern Multi-functional Spray Nozzle 75ft on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Product Review :: Bright LED Headlamp/Flashlight #Luxolite

Product Review :: Bright LED Headlamp/Flashlight #Luxolite


Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight with Red Light – Best Adjustable Headlight for Running, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Hunting, Reading, Kids – Waterproof CREE Work Headlamps Batteries Included


Lots of options on this headlight make it great for focused activities, has even given my son a boost of needed confidence

This LED Headlamp provides many different options when it comes to the light itself and the uses are wide and varied. The product description is accurate concerning the details of the product design and operation so I won’t take up time repeating everything, I will just start by outlining what I found, in my opinion, to be the overall best advantages and then the disadvantages of this headlamp. Then I will share my recommendation and how our family actually uses this headlamp/flashlight.

Advantages

headlamp flashlight✦ This is wonderful if you need a hands-free option in order to do work or hobbies more efficiently and/or safely
✦ Adjusts to a wide range of head sizes, in fact, it will more than likely fit anyone in your family
✦ This is built to last: impact and water resistant
✦ LED bulbs that last more than 50,000 hours
✦ The head mount tilts up and down with 5 positions, helping to direct the light where it is most needed
✦ Options: White Light (High, Medium, Low, Flashing) Red Light (Steady or Strobe night vision)
✦ Comes in 5 different colors so you can easily tell who’s is who’s if you have multiple family members that have them
✦ Comes with 3 AAA Duracell batteries, ready to use. I hate getting something and not having the needed batteries on hand.
✦ Lifetime guarantee, I think it is great that more companies are focusing on customer service and standing behind their products

Advantage and Disadvantage all in one:

headlamp flashlight red flash headlamp flashlight red✦ This light is extremely bright, much brighter than ordinary lights or flashlights. You will be able to light up the area you are focused on close at hand and you will not need to use multiple lights to do the work. If you are looking further away and using it for your light when walking at night, it provides a focused path of light quite a ways away depending on the terrain. In emergencies, the SOS modes will provide the visibility you need while leaving your hands free to cope with other things.

bright headlamp flashlightHowever, this light is so bright that it can result in some temporary vision problems if someone looks directly into it. Just be sure that anyone using it knows what each setting does and the one that they should use, especially children.

Disadvantages:

✦ Since the beam of the headlight/flashlight is so focused, I would not rely on this for any activity that involved traveling quickly or for something that involved being out in the wilderness with this as your only option. Bicycling, hiking, running/jogging, or hunting are things that the product description mentions that I would definitely want a light with a wider beam than this provides. You need to be able to see your surroundings with a wide field of vision in those situations, not just what this headlamp/flashlight’s beam produces which is too narrow for those activities.

Recommendation:

✦ This LED Headlamp/Flashlight is great to have for focused activities. When I say focused, I mean activities that have a defined scope of vision and one in which you don’t need a broad field of vision, where you don’t need to see what is going on in the environment around you. I don’t agree with the product description about many of the activities it does list that they think this headlamp could be used for. In fact, this headlamp could actually be a liability in certain situations they list, making you feel safe or secure when you actually need a different kind of light for those activities, many of those which I discussed in the Disadvantages section of this review.

✦ It would be really great if the company who makes these looked into offering two types of beams for this, the narrow one it currently does and wide one.

How our family uses this and other people who might benefit from having one:

✦ I really do like this light and it is perfect for what I had in mind which is something a little bit different. My youngest son and the grandchildren all love playing in the back yard. They love playing all kinds of games and riding their battery powered vehicles. My son has limited sight in one eye though and it makes him more hesitant than he really needs to be, especially in the early evening. There aren’t any real obstacles so I thought if he had more light, he would feel more comfortable in being adventurous and exploring.

This light has been perfect for that, it even gives him the extra light needed when it is dark to be able to drive around in one of the little jeeps, adding to the wider field of vision the headlights give. I was right when I thought this would give him the extra boost of confidence he needed to be able to explore more of the yard and participate in activities in the evening. Children need to be able to feel independent and if it takes something like a headlamp, I am all for it.

This really does make a great item for kids to have for so many different things like exploring the yard and house, reading under the covers, playing games like hide-and-seek and so much more. At the time I ordered this, the price point was under $20.00. If you have a lot of kids that is probably too much, but as a special gift or reward it is reasonable, At times I think we guide our children in their play too much, this is the perfect thing to give them and then just sit back and enjoy watching what they find to do with it.

headlamp flashlight white✦ This also makes a great tool for work around the house and in the garage. My husband wants one of his own for his work in the garage.
✦ It will also be very helpful next time we are able to go out camping. Nobody likes walking around the campsite or to the bathroom while tripping over everything not in sight! It won’t be the only type of flashlight we need, though.
✦ The product listing does mention other things this light will be good for that I agree with, especially the caving and walking your dog at night, as long as you are in familiar surroundings.
✦ This is great to use with hobbies where you need to see close up at times but your vision isn’t what it used to be. I love to color but at certain times of the day my eyes are very blurry and just don’t seem to focus well. This added light helps make the whole process easier so that I can relax. People who do any kind of hobbies like embroidery, making models, or painting may find this useful.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight with Red Light – Best Adjustable Headlight for Running, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Hunting, Reading, Kids – Waterproof CREE Work Headlamps Batteries Included on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#Luxolight


Product Review :: Stainless Steel Pet Bowls # LallyPet

Product Review :: Stainless Steel Pet Bowls # LallyPet


Set of 2 Dog Bowls 32 oz Stainless Steel for pet/dog/cat food or water and Travel Dog Bowl in Silicone and bottle holder


Nice upgrade for my dog, much better quality than what I had.

DuchessI ordered this new set of stainless steel bowls for my dog Duchess. She is blind now so we have to make sure that her bowls stay in the same place all of the time. They are working out well and I am fairly pleased with them.

Advantages:
* These look so much better than the rag tag collection of whatever the kids could find to feed her in. Her bowls were always blowing off the back porch and then being chewed up or lost.
* Great size for cats or dogs.
* Easy to clean, you can even put them in the dishwasher.
* Sturdy rubber piece around the bottom edge of the bowl to help it stay in place.
* Nice size, will hold 32 oz of water and approximately 2 cups of food.
* The bottom is open to the underside of the bowl, I have seen some with flat bottoms that become bent out of shape making them wobbly. Since the bottom is open, these are easy to stack freeing up space if you are traveling in your RV or even camping.
* Set comes with a collapsible bowl to take on hikes or short trips.
* 3 year warranty

DuchDuches white

Disadvantages:
* The bowl is a little small to hold enough water for any pet over the size of a medium sized dog for a full day. You will have to watch it during the day to make sure they get enough water, especially in the summer.

I actually decided to keep one of the bowls to use as water for her in my my master bath. She just lounges around all day with me and having her water up here makes more sense than for me to try to let her in and out during the day just to get a drink.

* I wish the rubber base was a little more sturdy. My dog tends to nudge her bowl a lot with her nose when she eats. It does move around a lot on our tile and wooden floors. It is not as bad on the back deck. I think if you put a small rug under it that the bowls would not move at all.

* Due to an error in shipping, I did not receive my green collapsible bowl. I spoke with the Seller though and he is sending one to me. No part of my rating is based on the missing item. If there is something remarkable about the collapsible bowl in any way, positive or negative, I will update the rating and review. We already have a travel kit for our dog so I am not super worried about it.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Product Review :: Shiatsu Heated Massager #ShistuMassager

Product Review :: Shiatsu Heated Massager #ShistuMassager


Naturalico Shiatsu Massager (Heated) – Kneading Massage Therapy for Foot, Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain – Relieves Sore Muscles – Total Body Relaxation


Perfect for anyone who requires or wants massage on a regular basis

Shiatsu is a deep muscle massage, if you are used to having a nice relaxing massage you will probably be surprised at how deep and strong this type of massage is. It can actually be painful depending on your body structure. You can adjust how much pressure and “strength” that is put on your body as this massager does it’s work by the way you hold your arms in the massager sleeves. If you want a really deep massage you can rest your forearms on the inside of the sleeves and pull the massager tight against your body. If you need a less intense massage you just need to relax your arms within the sleeves a little bit more.

The first few times you use it you might find it to be a little awkward to put on correctly. Place it around your neck with the handles hanging straight over your shoulder then put your arms through the handles like you are putting a cape on. The same goes for anywhere else you want to massage, you wear the massager like a cape and just adjust where the nodes are on your body. The exception to this is that it has some handy velcro straps on it that help secure it around your waist snugly so that you can really work your lower back. The instruction booklet tells you how to do this and if you watch my video, you can see how to do it on there.

You are supposed to be able to use this pretty much anywhere on your body except for your head and arms. I find it much too strong to use on my calfs and feet. That could be a sensitivity issue, though.

After you have it plugged in and it is on your body you just push the power button, which is the center button. The heat automatically comes on at this point. To turn the heat off simply press the top button. You can turn it back on by pressing the same button. The bottom button changes the direction of the message heads.

There are 4 massage nodes, which are the hard black ball like structures, two on each side of the massage unit. The second 2 round things on the massager provide heat as well as some muscle massage. The instruction booklet identifies these as massage heads, not nodes. The booklet also doesn’t mention anywhere 4 different patterns to the massager and I haven’t found any way to change the pattern it goes in. It goes forward and backward, with the backward pattern being the reverse of the forward pattern. I am not sure what people are referring to when they say they like a certain pattern out of the 4. Maybe they are confusing the word node with mode and since the massage heads are constantly moving before they stop and reverse, people might think it is actually changing the pattern, or node/mode. I am going to have to talk to the seller about this to verify it. Perhaps my unit is broken?

Notable advantages of this massager:
* Comes with an AC adapter to plug it into a wall outlet and also an adapter to use in the car
* Once you put it on a few times it is very easy to take on and off and move it around
* Heats up quickly and doesn’t get so hot that you will get burned
* Multi-Directional massage functionality
* Auto shutoff off the heat after 20 minutes
* The material on this is very soft, the product description says that this is leather but I am not sure about that.

Disadvantages:
* The cord on the massager often disconnects from the power adapter. It is no big deal but you can obviously tell that the connection is not tight.
* After falling in love with this, I decided to read the whole instruction booklet and found out that you should not use this where oxygen is being administered. You would think that this would be safe enough that it isn’t going to let off sparks or anything. Since you can’t use this around oxygen, I am ruled out since I am on oxygen 24/7. I suppose this is going to make a very nice present for someone.

Something to consider:
* The nodes are very hard so you can’t lean back against anything that would push against massage unit as you are using it

I think this is something extremely nice to have and would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a way to be able to have a massage whenever they would like to and it is much less expensive than regular massages. Skipping one massage given by a masseuse pays for this unit. I am just extremely disappointed for myself but I do know that other people will benefit from this.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this 4 Naturalico Shiatsu Massager (Heated) – Kneading Massage Therapy for Foot, Back, Neck and Shoulder Pain – Relieves Sore Muscles – Total Body Relaxation on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#ShistuMassager


Amazon TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction

Amazon TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction


They changed what??? They are making us do what??? No!!! Really??? Who did you hear that from??? They are out to get rid of us!!! How can they do this??? This can’t be legal!!! I’m sure it is because of the …. Do you think that…….

Amazon TOS ChangesThere are currently so many rumors flying around about Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines. Even though they changed them almost two weeks ago, people are still talking about it and still don’t  understand what changed and how it affects them. I know it can be scary and very confusing at times. What do you believe? Who do you believe? Where do I go for information? Those are all questions that have gone through my mind so many times since I have become a Reviewer.

As if changes to the TOS weren’t enough, around that same timeframe, Amazon wiped another large group of Reviewers again. Many people have claimed that Amazon wiped their account unfairly after they secretly changed their Guidelines, enforcing rules that were not in place when their reviews were written. I won’t address that rumor in this post, but of course, I have some thoughts to share about it later this week….

I have even read where people are going to quit reviewing because Amazon is continually changing the rules and there are no guidelines for a Reviewer to follow. People are unfairly losing their accounts and no explanations are given. Some people think that  Amazon should be sued because they have treated the community so unfairly.

After I heard another rumor that Amazon rewrote the complete Customer Review Creation Guidelines, I knew I needed to read them for myself and see what had changed so drastically. I wanted to know what I should be concerned about the most. So I read them and reread them. Then read them again. To tell you the truth, after reading them I had no idea what people were so upset about. They seemed basically the same to me except for one point. The $5.00 point. We’ll get to the answer to that question, but let’s look at the old and new Guidelines themselves for a minute.

I couldn’t recall exactly what the Amazon’s Review Guidelines said previously, but I knew one place I could find out… What Amazon TOS Really Says, straight from the horse’s mouth.  Ani Ruhama wrote this article back in late January and copied the text exactly from Amazon’s website. Let’s look at this side by side comparison I made. I had decided not to depend on some of the graphics I saw last week where people had compiled a ‘TOS” from bits and pieces they remembered, points they had written down, and partial screenshots. Thank goodness, I didn’t use those for my comparison!

Customer Review Creation Guidelines
Then and Now


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The Promotional Review section and the Paid Reviews section are exactly the same between the two versions except for some formatting changes.

The first section has changed. To post a review, customers must spend at least $5.00 using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $5.00 minimum. What does that mean and is it fair for Amazon to change the rules?

What this does not mean is that you can only write a review if you paid at least $5.00 for the product. What it does mean is that at some time during the life of your Amazon account, you must have spent $5.00 on their website.

  • This is lifetime (of your Amazon account) total of $5.00.
  • The $5.00 can not include what you paid for your Prime Subscription.
  • The $5.00, or any portion of it, can not come from the purchase of a product that was offered at a promotional discount.
  • The $5.00 has to be paid with a valid credit or debit card. You can’t use a gift card you purchased yourself, or one someone else gave to you, to meet this $5.00 minimum.

Am I sure about this? Yes!

I was sure that I understood the new stipulation but there are always people (like me) who want to see the proof with their own eyes. Do not assume anything with Amazon. I was just getting ready to write to them for clarification when I opened an email from Rachel Michelle, Director of Relations at Launchzon.com. They are the sister site to a new review website that I just joined, Ratezon.com. Rachel knew that the Sellers, as well as Reviewers, were concerned about all of the rumors swirling around so she contacted Amazon herself and had just received confirmation of what the “$5.00” stipulation actually means. Here is the actual email response she received from Amazon.

amazonconfimation

Click here if you would like to be able to read the text of the message in an easier format.

 

thank youThank you, Rachel, for sharing your clarification email with us. If there are any quality, experienced reviewers looking for a new site, Ratezon.com has recently launched and is now accepting applicants! Head on over and sign up if you are interested. They are really on top of TOS and want to make sure that Sellers and Reviewers have the support they need.

Now, on to the question as to if this is fair? I think so. Requiring you to spend $5.00 on their site is not that big of a deal. Anyone who just goes there to order things they are going to review at very little to no cost is missing out on a lot of really great deals and quality products. I love to review things and get great deals but our family also purchases a lot of other things on Amazon. Purchasing and then reviewing those things too is also a good way to keep your account well rounded. What is a well-rounded account? More on that next week…..

great dealsThere are several people you all may know, L.j. Redding among them, who regularly post great deals. She has a page on FB, Pelican Freak Frugal Finds that always has great deals, not to mention free eBooks! If you are reading this and have a page with great deals at Amazon, let me know and I will add it to the list.

$5.00 is nothing compared to the benefits we receive as Reviewers. It is not like you are giving them the money like a membership fee and you aren’t receiving anything in return. You can purchase whatever you want with it. There must be a very large number of people who write reviews and never even purchase anything themselves from the site or they would not have put this in place. What can you do if you are one of those people? Go spend some of your own money on Amazon!

Is it legal that Amazon changed their TOS?  They are not breaking any government or state rules and/or regulations by any of the changes they have made. It is their company and they make the rules. They create the rules, enforce the rules, and answer to no one. I have talked about this a lot before, they write their guidelines and policies to be very broad and vague so that they can interpret them how they want to. Once you submit your review you agree to give up all rights to the content, both written and media. You actually agree to abide by all of their TOS when you sign up for an account.

Did they do this so that they could wipe more Reviewers? I really doubt it. There have been a lot of changes lately, not just to Reviewers, but to Sellers and regular consumers also.  I am sure there are many changes that we are not even aware of yet. Let’s face it, they could have wiped every single reviewer if they wanted to without even having to change their TOS. That is not the reason they changed the Guidelines.

why do they get wipedThe review system began as a marketing ploy created so that they could jump ahead of their competition by having the first online store where customers contributed reviews, both good and bad, on a very large scale. It helped make Amazon who they are today. People knew they could go to Amazon and read reviews written by other people just like them.

However, both Sellers and Reviewers have taken advantage of the system. The fact that Amazon is purposely vague and doesn’t have enough real structure in their guidelines has come back to haunt them. That is the reason people get their accounts wiped. There are no real guidelines and with no real direction built in, the system has become flawed. Amazon’s reputation has suffered and Reviewers are not seen in the best light either.

So why did so many people just get wiped again? There are so many reasons why people get wiped and most of them will never know why, unless they knew they were doing something wrong and took the risk. I certainly feel sorry that so many people have lost all of their hard work and effort. I never want to minimalize that. It could happen to any of us.

I do have some other things I have heard about recently and things I read while researching this article that I will share more about later, but I am going off topic now. Those accounts being wiped do not have anything to do with the recent changes to Amazon’s Customer Review Creation Guidelines.

question marksWill all reviewers be wiped? Is the review system going to away? No. It would be an extremely disastrous business decision for them to wipe all reviews ever done, or even just the ones that were done by Reviewers. For the same reason, the system is not going to go away. Remember, the review system is what made Amazon into the largest online retailer. For them to have to publicly denounce and then do away with what made them who they are would be shooting themselves not only in the foot but In the head.

If Amazon has carte blanche to do whatever they want anyway, why bother to make any changes in the TOS at this point?  Changes in the Customer Review Creation Guidelines are actually a good sign. Amazon is moving forward with changes to the way Customer Reviews should be done. This seems to be part of the needed framework.

change is goodThe constant suspensions of updating rankings and blocking API access is a sure sign to me that they are working on their internal database structure which is what supports the algorithm they use to monitor transactions, especially transactions between Reviewers and Sellers. Until they have made all of the needed changes and are sure their database structure will support what they want to implement, they will probably go forward with minor changes like this instead of a major announcement and then implementation of how they plan to reinvent their once best-in-class system.



Amazon Customer Review Creation Guidelines TOS Changes :: What is Fact and What is Fiction
Most of what I have heard is FICTION (thankfully)
I hope I have cleared up the question about what the $5.00 stipulation means.

To keep your account as safe as possible, whatever you do, don’t forget to put your Disclosure in your review and don’t participate in Keyword Searching, Wishlisting, or other Special Seller Requests.

Do you have other questions about the recent changes?
What other things have you heard?
Do you have questions about the email from Amazon?

You know I always love to hear from other Reviewers or interested parties, please leave a comment letting me know what you think of the recent change, Amazon TOS in general, Customer Review Creation Guidelines, a question about reviewing, or anything else you would like to comment on.


Disclosure: I don’t pretend to know all of the answers and my opinion does have a tendency to come through very strongly in my posts, but I do state all of the facts that I know and make every effort possible to share with you the correct information. I am always very open to hearing opposing viewpoints. If we don’t share what we have learned with each other, none of us will ever make it as a Reviewer.

Product Review :: Sandalwood Essential Oil #brooklynbetter

Product Review :: Sandalwood Essential Oil #brooklynbetter


Ultra Pure Sandalwood Essential Oil (Santalum Album) – Brooklyn Botany – East Indian Sandalwood, 100% Pure, 1 fl. oz. Great for Skin, Hair Care, Acne Treatment & Aromatherapy

Sold by Brooklyn Botany


Smells heavenly, makes my skin look great, and makes me feel calm

sandalwood essential oil I have found my new favorite essential oil. Move over Bergamot and Bulgarian Lavender. Sorry Basil. I think this is truly one of the most wonderful things I have smelled in a very long time. I have been wanting to smell Sandalwood for a long time but of course, it is usually out of my price range. This is East Indian Sandalwood though and not from the Australian Sandalwood that is almost non-existant anymore. I am sure that is why this is so reasonably priced. I can’t imagine the Australian smelling any better than this! Sandalwood is used a lot in perfumes, now I know why, it smells so great.

Usually, I prefer flowery scents. This isn’t flowery but it has the soft tones that I love. I think another thing that makes it such a memorable scent is that it actually lasts for a very long time. When I unwrapped the package and opened the bottle I immediately smelled it. That one sniff stayed with me for the longest time. My husband really likes this scent too because he gets so tired of my flowery scents all of the time. I use this a lot in my bedroom diffuser which runs almost all of the time. I often combine it with Jasmine and the smell just takes me back to the times I traveled in Asia. Smell can trigger some powerful memories.

This essential oil is good for so many different things. I have been using it as a moisturizer on my face and added a few drops to the toner that I have made for my own use. In the diffuser or in an aromatherapy necklace, this is said to have a very calming effect. That is always something good to have constantly being diffused throughout the room.

sandalwood essential oil colorI think some people immediately get upset that some essential oils are not as expensive as they expect them to be. I for one am thrilled this is at a reasonable price point because that means I can order some more when I use all of this. My skin looks better and my mood is better. It smells fantastic. Those three reasons are enough for me to be convinced that this oil really is what it says it is. If I get the opportunity to ever try the Australian Sandalwood I will be sure to update this review with my thoughts on the comparison between that and this Indian Sandalwood.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this Ultra Pure Sandalwood Essential Oil (Santalum Album) – Brooklyn Botany – East Indian Sandalwood, 100% Pure, 1 fl. oz. Great for Skin, Hair Care, Acne Treatment & Aromatherapy on Amazon and received it for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#brooklynbetter

Product Review :: WindowPix Decorative Window Film #windowpix

Product Review :: WindowPix Decorative Window Film #windowpix

WindowPix Decorative Static Cling Window Film
Spring Sunset on the Dutch Canals
Printed on Clear for Window Glass Panels, UV Protection, Energy Savings

Offered by ArtToFrames


Easily Add Beauty to Any Room

windowpix window filmThis makes a great addition to our home. I chose this specific one, Spring Sunset on the Dutch Canals (24 x 36), out of the 14 designs available because I liked the thought of walking along the canals and looking at all of the different architecture. That is something I would really love to do someday. The details are really incredible on this. It is also very interesting to watch the play of light against the window and watch how different parts of the image are the focus as the intensity of the light changes. We also have a large tree right outside of the window behind this and the tree really causes some interesting effects on the image.

Advantages:
* Crisp, detailed print
* Easy to apply
* So many different sizes and images to choose from
* Easy to trim yourself if needed
* Changes the complete feel of the room
* I can open the curtains and not have to worry about the room getting as hot as it normally would
* Not just for windows. I have a great craft idea in mind for one of these and an old mirror……
* Made in the USA!

Disadvantages:
None, I can’t wait to order more of these. I would love it if this company  came out with some designs with a stained glass theme.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I ordered this on Amazon and received it at a discount in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. All ratings are earned and never promised; all opinions and thoughts expressed are my own and I am in no way associated with the manufacturer or seller. I received no compensation other than the product sample. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

#windowpix